State lawmakers are again recommending a York County District judge serve another seven-year term, despite some public pushback.

Members of the Maine Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Wednesday following a contentious committee hearing that lasted roughly five hours.

Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer, file

This is the second time District Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz has faced strong opposition. Just months before his last reappointment in 2015 he unsuccessfully attempted to impose a gag order on media coverage of a domestic violence case. In 2021, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court called attention to one of his rulings, which it partially vacated, in which Moskowitz “abused his discretion” by declining to modify a custody arrangement in favor of a father who wanted to vaccinate his children.

Lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee voted unanimously in 2015 to recommend his confirmation to the full Senate, even as a group of lawyers opposed Moskowitz’s reappointment, saying he showed clear bias toward the prosecution.

Moskowitz, a graduate of the Syracuse University School of Law who served as assistant district attorney in York County throughout the 1990s, was first appointed to the bench in 2008 by Gov. John Baldacci. He was reappointed again in 2015 by Gov. Paul LePage.

Gov. Janet Mills is the latest to reappoint Moskowitz to the bench.


In his application for another term, the judge said that he handles a wide range of district-level cases in all four of York County’s courthouses. He estimated he spends roughly 40 percent of his time as a judge on family matters, 20 percent on criminal issues and 10 percent on domestic violence cases.

During Wednesday’s hearing, lawmakers referenced letters from people who’d been in Moskowitz’s courtroom. They disagreed with his rulings, saying Moskowitz was biased against women, didn’t fully consider the facts of their cases and treated litigants representing themselves “pro se” – without attorneys – unfairly.

Roughly 30 people spoke at Moskowitz’s reappointment hearing Wednesday afternoon. More than a dozen voiced their support, most of them attorneys from York County and the Portland area who have tried cases in Moskowitz’s court.

“Jeff Moskowitz truly is humbled by the responsibility of being a judge. He takes it that seriously,” said Portland attorney Rob Ruffner. “I can tell you that he accepts critical feedback from members of the bar. He does so because he is concerned about doing a good job as a judge. He wants that information.”

“I was troubled mostly (by) the line of questioning and also by some of the online commentary and the letters you have apparently received,” attorney Diane Dusini said to the committee. “I do not believe there is any bias on his part. … he is respectful to everyone, even those who do not treat him with the same level of respect.”

Moskowitz also received a favorable endorsement from the Maine Trial Lawyer’s Association and York County District Attorney Kathryn Slattery, who said she had “no doubt” about Moskowitz’s integrity and knowledge of the courts.


“When it comes to temperament and how he treats people, I cannot say enough,” Slattery said. “I’m surprised (at) the allegations of disparate treatment against women in his courts.”

Those in opposition were all private citizens, many of whom had cases in which Moskowitz ruled against them. Some of those who spoke during Wednesday’s hearing didn’t understand the authority of the Judiciary Committee, and asked lawmakers to initiate criminal proceedings against Moskowitz or to launch an investigation. Several speakers went over a three-minute time limit set by the committee, often speaking over lawmakers or becoming emotional.

Judiciary Chair Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth, reminded some speakers of the purpose of the hearing when their comments veered from their experiences with Moskowitz to specific details of their court cases.

“This hearing is for people to share their information about the qualifications of Judge Moskowitz,” Carney told one speaker, mid-testimony. The speaker was later ejected from the meeting for not appearing “to be providing information to the committee that’s germane,” Carney said.

“We’ve had a little introductory to family court here and all of its emotion,” Rep. Christopher Babbidge, D-Kennebunk, said at one point.

The Maine Senate is scheduled to vote on Moskowitz’s confirmation on Tuesday, Sept. 20. The Judiciary Committee also agreed to advance two other nominations to the District Court, Daniel Mitchell of Scarborough and Jennifer Rush of Portland.

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